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Richard B. Cheney was the 44th President of the United States, succeeding incumbent President George W. Bush following his death in 2002 from part aphyxiation and part brain damage, embarassingly from choking on a pretzel and crushing his head onto the coffee table in the White House Entertainment Room.
President Cheney selected Secretary of State Colin Powell as his Vice President; he was quickly confirmed by the Senate and sworn in two weeks after Bush's death. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was selected to replace him in the State Department.
Cheney was responsible for dramatic national security reforms in the U.S., which some felt curbed civil liberties. He also ordered a U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein. The sheer size of the American invasion force along with the military's tactics and technological prowess allowed it to crush a burgeoning insurgency and keep the Iraqi government function. He also pursued a more aggressive military strategy in Afghanistan, leading to the collapse of the Taliban and the capture of Osama bin Laden.
However, despite the military success overseas, Cheney's approval ratings hovered in the mid to upper 40's, mostly due to the perception that he was unattached to domestic issues or the problems of the ordinary American. Also, America's military victories came at a very high cost in casualties.
In 2004, both President Cheney and Vice President Powell declined to seek the Republican nomination for the presidency. The frontrunners for the Republican nomination that year were Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), and Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL), brother of the deceased former U.S. president. McCain was knocked out of the race early on, and the battle between Giuliani and Bush lasted for months, before Giuliani finally secured the nomination. He selected Bush as his running mate.
The Democrats emerged from their own primary contest nominating former Governor Howard Dean of Vermont, who had selected retired General Wesley Clark as his running mate. Giuliani would cruise to victory over Dean, winning 327 electoral votes to Dean's 211.
In his farewell address, President Cheney thanked the nation for allowing him to serve, congratulated President-elect Giuliani on his victory, and issued stern warnings to Iran and North Korea, who were developing nuclear weapons that could potentially harm the U.S. and allies. Also, perhaps most significantly, he announced that the U.S. military was planning on withdrawing from Afghanistan and Iraq in mid-2006, having completed their goals.
At noon on January 20th, 2005, the presidency of Richard B. Cheney came to a close, and the presidential administration of Rudolph W. Giuliani began.